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2018 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: High School

Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? Here are our top ten books for different age ranges — including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry — all published 2017–2018 and ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion.

For a handy take-along list of titles, download our printable PDF.

Picture Books | Easy Readers and Primary Grades | Intermediate | Middle School

High School

Suggested grade level for all entries: 9 and up

Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld (Little, Brown)

In 1971 twenty-four-year-old basketball great Lewis Alcindor changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (“noble servant of God”), marking a religious, cultural, and political awakening. His memoir offers a nuanced sports story of growing up in troubled times. A sixteen-page insert of black-and-white photos is a nice bonus. 291 pages.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Holt)

Amari, daughter of maji-persecuting King Saran, begs for Zélie’s help. The princess has stolen a magical scroll — which awakens Zélie’s latent power to command the dead. Joined by Zélie’s brother Tzain and pursued by Prince Inan, the young women set out to restore magic to all of Orïsha. 533 pages.

Landscape with Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson (Candlewick)

The aliens who have colonized America are fans of 1950s-style teen romance. Adam and Chloe decide to play this to their advantage — but what happens when they can’t stand each other anymore? Parable, satire, dystopic sci-fi — Anderson presents a bitingly precise critique of contemporary human folly. 149 pages.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton (Freeform/Disney)

In the fantastical courtly society of Orléans, everyone is born ugly — except for the Belles, the few beautiful young women with the ability to manipulate others’ appearances. Clayton vividly and effectively describes her world’s dazzling fashion and lavish galas in the midst of profound racism/colorism, indentured servitude, and distorted body image. 440 pages.

I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman (Viking)

A chance meeting in Central Park leads to intimate relationships among three struggling nineteen-year-olds: Freya, an up-and-coming singer; Harun, a closeted-to-his-family gay college student; and Nathaniel, who’s hiding his true reason for visiting New York City. A stirring reminder of the great risks of isolation and the immense solace of human connections. 258 pages.

Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth (Levine/Scholastic)

Seventeen-year-old Carson and fifteen-year-old Maggi prepare for a high-stakes Battle of the Bands. Their alternating first-person narratives, set in 1980 on the Tuscarora Indian Nation near Niagara Falls, offer an intimate look at the teens’ lives within an Indigenous culture both rooted in tradition and embracing modern popular culture. 424 pages.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (Dutton)

Sixteen-year-old Aza Holmes, who suffers from obsessive compulsions and anxiety, reconnects with childhood friend Davis Pickett while investigating the whereabouts of Davis’s missing billionaire father. Mystery and tentative romance give the story shape, but its epicenter is a clear-eyed exploration of mental illness. 290 pages.

The Fashion Committee by Susan Juby (Viking)

This companion to The Truth Commission finds relentlessly optimistic, fashion-obsessed Charlie Dean and acerbic metalworker John Thomas-Smith vying for a scholarship to Green Pastures Academy. Juby’s whip-smart coming-of-age comedy offers memorable characters, welcome diversity, and lots to say about talent and ambition. 307 pages.

Strangers by David A. Robertson (HighWater)

Cole left Wounded Sky First Nation after a fire in which he saved several lives. When urgent messages prompt his return, Cole finds his community caught up in a rash of illnesses and violent murders — and he is suspected of precipitating them. An engaging blend of thriller, superhero origin story, sci-fi, and coming-of-age tale. 233 pages.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (First Second/Roaring Brook)

Sometimes Prince Sebastian feels comfortable identifying as male. Other times he feels like a princess — so he hires dressmaker Frances to design outfits for his alter ego, Lady Crystallia. Wang’s graphic-novel illustrations balance finery with relatable, endearing protagonists. 282 pages.


From the May 2018 issue of Notes from the Horn Book: Summer Reading.

For past years’ summer reading lists from The Horn Book, click on the tag summer reading.
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